The clear truth, as we have all experienced, is that improper and outdated sexual education lessons do not just appear when we enter institutions for higher learning, but have followed us as early as 6th grade. In fact, if we want to improve the entire conversation of sexual health and wellness and revamp it to be inclusive and universal, we must start with earlier teachings of it. In order to take action in changing the current dialogue that is being taught in schools, there are several routes to be taken.
Through my conversations, both within small and large group discussions during class, and through speaking with all of my friends growing up, it is unanimous that we have felt left in the dark on many topics. For example, the week-long, once a year lesson plans growing up in South Carolina were exclusively for cis, heterosexual partners only. In fact, the major takeaway that I remember is simply hearing that abstinence is key, and that this is essentially the answer to everything. Very little details were stated on STIs/STDs in comprehensive ways, there were zero inclusions on any type of sex that was not between a cisgender man and a cisgender woman, and, arguably most concerning, there was absolutely no emphasis placed on the need for enthusiastic and specific consent between people. Combined together, the lack of these very real topics becomes incredibly concerning. It gives way too much room for students to formulate harmful, underrepresented images of what sexual health and wellness means and looks like.
Firstly, I believe we have enough fostered support among students here at Davidson to start a Improving Sex Ed in Schools Club (ISEC). Once we have a group formed, we can figure out a mission statement and, if necessary, assign subgroups. For example, we could have one group of 3-5 working within Davidson to improve the Sex Ed training on our own campus (is there any accountability if a student does not complete the Sex Ed online course? Is there a way to have group seminars/discussions about the content afterwards so it is not forgotten?) We could have a larger group of 8-10 centered on reaching out to middle or high schools in Davidson or Mecklenburg County to see if there are any current efforts to reform Sex Ed, or if they would be open to a group of Davidson students writing or helping to lead that conversation.
A subgroup within the Planned Parenthood Generation Action club on campus attended sexual education training and is now able to actually give the lessons within schools and organizations. I believe this has the potential to be a phenomenal opportunity for students our age to make a difference and to become a fresh voice for younger students who are just beginning to learn about sexual health and wellness. Before joining PPGA, I did not know we were able to become certified trainers in sexual education. We could spread the word, inform students on set training dates offered, and see if this garners even more interest.
I imagine that the impacts of having open-minded, inclusive, and respectful attitudes surrounding sexual health and wellness, paired with updated and comprehensive lesson plans, will be astounding for younger students. I hope that, starting with Davidson and then spreading to middle and high schools within the area, we can make this positive change.